Staten Islanders facing cold threat of cutbacks on help with home heating bill
SI Live reports:
William and Jacqueline Parrott keep the thermostat in their three-story house set at 65 degrees during the day and 60 at night, no matter how cold it gets outside.
But the retired couple, who have lived in their New Brighton home for more than three decades, say they're not sure what they'll do if the LIHEAP dollars they get from the federal government to help pay their fuel get slashed this winter.
"I guess we'll continue to cut down on everything," said Mr. Parrott -- including the thermostat setting in the couple's brown and blue wood-frame home. Staten Island homeowners are already facing a 25 percent spike in home heating oil costs over last year, up from $3.26 to $4.10 per gallon, for an average of $675 more overall this winter, noted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer yesterday, standing outside the Parrotts' home on Hendricks Avenue.
And if next year's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), that helps seniors and low-income homeowners pay their fuel bill, remains at the level slashed by the House Republican majority, New York LIHEAP consumers could see a net loss of $85 million.
In real terms, for customers like the Parrotts, Brown's Fuel Services owner Jeffrey Palmese said the couple would get just $450 to pay for 110 gallons in 2012, compared to the $750 they received this year to pay for 230 gallons.
"It will be a dramatic, drastic cut," said Palmese, who attended the morning press conference. Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to keep New York's share at $428 million in a vote next month, up from the House's LIHEAP 2012 allocation of $343 million. "New York has one of the toughest and coldest winters in the nation," said Schumer, "and the formula for distributing home heating assistance should logically focus on colder states."
Schumer said freshmen House Republicans from the South have sought to increase federal dollars to their districts at the expense of Northern states.
"We are going to fight tooth and nail in the Senate to keep the same formula" as currently exists, added Schumer. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) supports current LIHEAP funding and opposes the formula change. He said last month that any change would "make it difficult" for recipients to "make appropriate preparations or contingency plans for this winter."
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